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Category Archives: Sympathy

Bad Signal
Someone’s left you a voicemail message, but all you can make out are the last words: “I’m sorry. I should’ve told you months ago. Bye.” Who is it from, and what is this about?

Bad Signal

blurry hearts

Uncle Aaron passed away. Eva died of cancer. Uncle Jack is in the hospital. Elaine’s father died. I thought you knew. We did not want to upset you more.

People presume to know how much I can handle and how much I care. I have had losses that have hurt. Sadly, there have been quite a few in a fairly short amount of time. I prefer the truth and my opportunity to process and mourn in my own way at the right time. If I do not know, I cannot offer my condolences to a family member. Because of your misguided attempt at kindness, I did not give my condolences to his daughter. Now, she will always remember that we did nothing while she felt most alone and bereft.

This is not casual information. These people lived, made an impression on my heart, and are a part of my life’s history. Please don’t pretend that it never happened or act like it should not be that important to me. You may prefer to let time pass or act like it was no big deal. Now I will be mourning on my own and grieving a loss that others already shared.

we-all-have-our-baggage

Several days ago, I saw a Daily Post prompt asking people if they hold a grudge or “forgive and forget.” Since then, this topic has been rolling around my brain, so I can assuredly say that I do not forget!

My brain and memories are very important to me. The things that I remember can be painful and did hurt, but they also informed me, taught me, and developed my sensitivity and empathy.

Having taught, I do remember the students, both good and bad, who have been part of the lessons along the way. I have not forgotten the lousy bosses or corporate back-stabbing. I recall my New York commutes and muggings. Those who were selfish, egotistical, mean, rude, disparaging and dispirited are part of the cadre of remembered.

People who behave that way, and treat others that way, are an anathema to me. I cannot possibly understand why they want to be remembered as that kind of person or why they would want others to remember the stupid things they should have forgotten to say out loud!

The bullies have not been forgotten though time has removed some of the sting. Yet, the words have not been forgotten and the body language and facial micro-movements have been catalogued in my brain. My memory has served as a training ground and provided me with people skills and self awareness.

So, do I hold a grudge? Well, I have to keep going and moving forward. But, I never forget. I cannot forget the history of my family and the stories archived of their lives and legacy. History is doomed to repeat itself, so based on all that has occurred in just the last 100 years, as well as the last 100 days, none of us should ever forget the past.

I cannot forget the stigma and shame of people afraid to take medication for fear of what others will say about them or their children. People forget the bravery it takes to tackle personal challenges head on. I cannot forget what economic issues my family experienced, so my empathy is well developed towards others who struggle. The tears that have been shed in grief, loss and despair are not forgotten because I have felt them too.

Watching loved ones’ health deteriorate so severely and completely, I cannot forget the pain I see in someone else’s eyes. I try to remember my manners even when others behave badly; courtesy, kindness and compassion should never be forgotten.

In fact, it really is not ever forgotten. To anyone who has struggled financially, an unexpected check in a birthday card or the kindness of strangers means the world. For someone spending days in the hospital, and nights alone, a cup of coffee or a check-in call really can be a life saver. An individual so split with grief cannot think about the numerous errands and demands of daily life and will cry with relief when someone offers a helping hand. The flowers received or the laugh shared helps to temporarily forget the difficulties and traumas that still lie outside the door.

Caring and compassionate behavior has the power to change lives and move worlds. Kindness is the Grace of memory.

To the people I wish I could forget, I will remember the lies you said to my face and behind my back always. It is a reminder of what people can do to others in the name of the ego and false friendship.

To the people who helped to light my path when it was dark and desolate, you gave me a gift that I will always remember. It is my hope that I will share it with as many people as I can and that they will remember to share it with others. Your kindness and example will not be forgotten, and while I may not carry a grudge (on the outside), I will carry a grin in my heart and growth within my soul.

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The RSA recently put out an animated video of Empathy vs. Sympathy that went viral. In fact, if you put the information in a Search Engine, you can find hundreds of links to it.

That put me on a search for Empathy in other videos and film shorts. There are some fascinating examples of animation from Cal Arts and short videos and excerpts.  Many Hollywood film productions go for the dramatic, exacting our sympathy with harsh tragedies and weeping grief and dying.  They pull out our tears with the obvious. Empathy can be a little more complex *like the Empathy Queen herself* and make you think some more about the topic.

This delightful short will explain Empathy and put a smile on your face (at least I hope it will). If you feel like I do, by all means, share or leave a comment.

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A good post reaches for your heart and remains on your mind.

Thanks for stopping by! It means more than you know.

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grief is not a disorder

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thanks for stopping by! it means more than you know.
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